La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins-Sox: Mauer back. Thome in lineup. Everyone loves J.J.

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 10, 2010 - 12:00 PM

The Twins clubhouse was loose and relaxed this morning. Winning helps you forget the whacky schedule. That, plus the club had its draw for the Masters pool before the game, so guys had to be alert.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is really pleased with how his defense has looked so far. The Twins haven't committed an error in five games. Delmon Young is moving better in left. Denard Span made a great catch to end Friday's game. And the accolades about J.J. Hardy continue to flow.

``He's been really good,'' Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said.

Morneau said he's been a little surprised Hardy has looked so good. I've written before how some scouts felt that Hardy's range was slipping. I don't see it. Sometimes a player takes his offensive struggles to the field, and maybe that's what happened with him last year in Milwaukee.

Drew Butera will get the lineup card from his first major league game yesterday, something Gardenhire likes to do. Butera said he never felt nervous about his debut, which probably comes from him being son of a former major leaguer.

Joe Mauer, who was getting a night off until he was needed in extra innings last night, is back in the lineup. Jim Thome, who got a standing ovation when he pinch hit in the 10th last night, is the DH with Jason Kubel in left.

Scott Baker will try to shake off a poor Opening Night outing

Lineups

Twins (4-1)

Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
6. Jim Thome, DH
7. Jason Kubel, LF
8. J.J. Hardy, SS
9. Nick Punto, 3B

RHP Scott Baker (0-1,7.71) 

White Sox (1-3)

1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Gordon Beckham, 2B
3. Carlos Quentin, RF
4. Paul Konerko, DH
5. Mark Kotsay, 1B
6. Alex Rios, CF
7. A.J. C
8. Alexei Ramirez, SS
9. Mark Teahen, 3B

RHP Freddy Garcia

First pitch 12:10

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